Today we honour the memory of Saint Alban, the first Christian to shed his blood for Christ in England. Saint Bede – the author of The Ecclesiastical History of the English People – tells us that Alban was converted to Christianity by a persecuted priest whom he sheltered from the Roman authorities. Alban was arrested for assisting the priest and was beheaded after refusing to abandon his faith. We ask Saint Alban’s intercession and protection for the Church in England, that we may all be faithful and fruitful in the practice of the faith for which this martyr sacrificed his life.
You may have heard the story told of the husband and wife who, on their travels, attended Mass in a Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite. The liturgy was quite different from what they were used to in their home parish, but at one point the ushers began to take up the collection. At that the man turned to his wife and whispered; “Now I know we are in a Catholic church!”
Many parish priests will tell you that they don’t like to talk about money. And yet Saint Paul doesn’t hesitate to urge the Corinthians to contribute generously to a collection that was being taken up for the poor in Jerusalem. He told them that the Philippians in Macedonia had not only given generously beyond their means to this collection, but had even begged him for the privilege of helping the less fortunate members of the church.
Saint Paul explained the ultimate motive for generosity. He reminded them that the Lord Jesus for their sake made himself poor, though he was rich, so that they might become rich by his poverty.
This means that our generosity must exclude no one. In Our Lord’s day love of neighbour was of the essence of the Law, but the term ‘neighbour’ was restricted to those of one’s own country and religion. Our Lord taught that neighbour means everyone without exception. Because of Our Lord’s generosity towards us, we must always be generous in helping those who are in need.